LIMA — Ottawa-Glandorf’s boys basketball team is back in the regional basketball tournament for the second year in a row.
Don’t think for a moment they aren’t grateful to be there after COVID-19 ended the tournament before the regional finals in 2020.
“It’s March. We’re playing basketball. I think last year taught me to be thankful for the opportunity to play,” said Will Kaufman, a forward for the Titans. “You give us an opportunity for a district championship, we’re going to show up and give it our all.”
Kaufman led the Titans’ aggressive three quarters-court pressure defense in shutting down Wayne Trace in a convincing 58-26 victory that was so lopsided it included a running clock after the margin reached 30 points in the fourth quarter.
The Titans, 18-4 and ranked No. 10 in the final state AP poll, face Archbold at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the regional semifinal at Elida High School. The Blue Streaks topped Cardinal Stritch, 59-56, in the Toledo District on Saturday to earn a rematch with the Titans, who beat Archbold 57-36 back in December.
Wayne Trace (18-7), which put on a 3-point shooting clinic in its district semifinal win against Bath, shot a relatively cool 27.7% Saturday afternoon. The taller Titans were ready, especially after a close three-point win in overtime against Coldwater, and O-G hit nine 3-pointers of its own Saturday.
“They wanted to play our style of basketball, so we welcomed that challenge and attacked them,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman, a 6-1 senior forward, spent much of the afternoon defending the Raiders’ Brooks Laukhuf, a 6-0 freshman who scored just eight points Saturday after tallying 20 Thursday.
“(Laukhuf) is going to be a special player, but we put our toughest, most physical guy, Will Kaufman, on him and just hounded him the whole night,” Ottawa-Glandorf coach Tyson McGlaughlin said.
Wayne Trace coach Jim Linder was impressed by the Titans.
“They rotate really, really well. They’re good at what they do. They’re really good at what they do,” he said. “… We struggled to score inside, and they were able to lock us down. That was a winning recipe, no doubt about that.”
Of course, in basketball it’s about more than just keeping your opponent from scoring. The Titans made the most of their chances when the Raiders faltered, hitting 44.9% of their shots, including 34.6% of their 3-point attempts.
As for the Titans’ offense, Brennen Blevins’ 17 points, including three 3-pointers, would’ve been a pretty good game for most high school basketball players. O-G’s sharpshooter had that by halftime, helping turn a 14-11 lead after one quarter into a 14-point lead by halftime, keyed by an 8-0 run that took 3 minutes, 30 seconds and put the Titans comfortably ahead.
Blevins finished with a game-high 20 points, including 4 for 5 shooting from behind the 3-point arc. His efforts driving toward the basket opened up more opportunities, as the Raiders had to respect both aspects of his game.
“Brennen’s been due,” McGlaughlin said. “I know he’s been frustrated lately. Teams have been really hounding him and taking him out of what we want to do and what he wants to do. Give him credit. He kept doing what Brennen does, which is playing hard.”
Carter Schimmoeller took his turn to shine in the third quarter, when he scored seven of his 10 points.
“We’re all hitting on all cylinders,” Kaufman said. “Everyone came in and did their job and executed. I’m pretty proud of that.”